The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #87534   Message #1635632
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
27-Dec-05 - 05:50 PM
Thread Name: Happy! – Dec 26 (Kwanzaa / St Stephen)
Subject: RE: Happy! – Dec 26 (Kwanzaa / St Stephen)
Alan Lomax in FSNA, 1960, p. 311-312, states that "Let's Go A-Huntin'" was collected at Fort Spunky, Texas, by J. A. Lomax, no date or singer cited. Reference is made to p. 101 of the earlier "Our Singing Country," 1941.

In "Our Singing Country," by John and Alan Lomax, a similar song (only a rat was hunted) was printed under the title "Billy Barlow," pp. 101-102, collected in 1915 from the singing of Bud Riley, Fort Spunky, Texas.
Both are cited as collected at Fort Spunky. Although Alan in FSNA cites "p. 101" of "Our Singing Country," the songs are not the same.
Peggy Seeger, who did the melodies for FSNA, uses a somewhat different tune from the one in the earlier book.
As often happens with books by the Lomaxes, we are left with confusing citations. Did Peggy Seeger apply her own text and melodic variation in FSNA?
Apparently we only have Alan Lomax' word that the "wren song was sung in New York on St. Stephen's Day" (FSNA, p. 304).
"The Wren Hunt" in the Opies, "The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book," pp. 178-179, is a good English version, the oldest in print (c. 1744, in a Tom Thumb song book, according to the Traditional Ballads Index).
The American song ialso is suggestive of an English children's song; a fragment:
Hunting we will go, brave boys,
Hunting we will go;
We'll catch an old fox
And put him in a box,
Fox a-hunting we will go,
Halt! Shoulder arms! Fire!
p. 144, part 1, Alice B. Gomme, 1894-1898, "The Traditional Games of England..."

Do Helen H. Flanders and Marguerite Olney, 1953, "Ballads Migrant in New England," mention collecting "The Wren," given the number 4683 in the Roud Index, in New York? I don't think so, but I will check when I re-find the book in my scattered library. German-Dutch or English lineage? This also needs checking.